No. 6 Tufts Rallies to Edge No. 3 Cortland in Semifinals

CORTLAND, N.Y. Tufts sophomore Kevin McCormick (Laytonsville, MD/Georgetown Prep) scored with three minutes remaining in regulation and sophomore goalie Steven Foglietta (Oceanside) stuffed Cortland senior Brandon Misiszek's (New Hartford) last-second shot as the nationally sixth-ranked Jumbos knocked off the defending national champion third-ranked Red Dragons, 10-9, in the NCAA Div. III Semifinals Sunday afternoon at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.

The Red Dragons had their 16-game winning streak come to a close and finished 17-3 overall. Tufts improved to 19-1 and advances to the national title game at M & T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., versus Salisbury, which defeated Stevenson in overtime in the second semifinal contest.

Senior Brian Krol (Niskayuna) paced Cortland with three goals. Senior Tom Burke (Massapequa) led all scorers with five points on two goals and three assists. Sophomore Greg Wright (Irondequoit) added two goals and one assist, while junior Jay DiStefano (Huntington/Harborfields) and sophomore Mike Tota (Webster/Webster Schroder) each contributed a goal.

Junior Chris DeLuca (Sayville) recorded 11 ground balls, and junior Justin Schneidman (Katonah/John Jay-Cross River) had three caused turnovers. Freshman goalie Mike Kaminski (Sayville) turned aside seven shots.

McCormick and sophomore Sean Kerwan (Boonton Township, NJ/Mountain Lakes) each finished with three goals for the Jumbos. Junior Matt Witko (Chappaqua/Horace Greeley) scored twice, junior D.J. Hessler (Monkton, MD/St. Paul's) contributed one goal and two assists, junior Alec Bialosky (Moreland Hills, OH/Hawken School) had one goal and one assist and junior Ryan Molloy (Setauket/Ward Melville) handed out two assists. Foglietta finished with 16 saves, and sophomore Nick Rhoads (McLean, VA/Landon) won 13 of 23 faceoffs and collected a game-high 12 ground balls.

Cortland appeared to take control of the game early on, grabbing a 3-1 lead after the first quarter on goals from Krol, Tota and Wright and stretching the advantage to 6-2 at the six minute, two second mark of the second quarter as Krol, Burke and DiStefano found the back of the net. Tufts, however, took some momentum into the half when Molloy assisted on Witko's man-up goal at the 1:00 mark to make it a 6-3 game.

Krol quickly gave Cortland back a four-goal lead on a man-up goal, his third score of the game, off Wright's assist just 1:32 into the third quarter. The Jumbos, however, went on a six-goal run to turn the tide and take a 9-7 lead early in the fourth quarter. Kirwan got the rally started with three straight goals at 9:00, 2:44 and seven seconds of the third. His first score was a man-down goal just as a Tufts penalty was expiring.

Hessler then tied the game at 7-7 with a goal at 11:51 of the fourth quarter and assisted on Bialosky's goal 16 seconds later as the Jumbos earned thier first lead of the game. McCormick upped the lead to 9-7 with a man-up goal at 10:37. Cortland answered on Burke's second goal at 7:18 and Wright's score at 3:48, setting up the final hectic minutes.

Senior Jamie Atkins (Concord, MA/Middlesex) sent a pass to McCormick from the left side of the cage and McCormick put a 15-yard shot past Kaminski for what proved to be the game winner. The Red Dragons won the ensuing faceoff but lost possession. After a successful clear, Tufts turned the ball back over to Cortland with 1:48 remaining.

The Red Dragons then gave the ball back to the Jumbos at the 1:12 mark. The trading of turnovers continued when Schneidman forced a Tufts turnover at 1:00, but Cortland lost possession on its clear attempt on a hard check at midfield by Tufts senior Doug DiSesa (Wynnewood, PA/Lawrenceville).

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